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We all have employees who make our life a little easier. They take on tasks without being asked and can always be counted on to get things done.

This same person often reminds us of ourselves. If we’re driven and dedicated, they’re often driven and dedicated. If we’re outgoing, they are too.

You might also just naturally connect with them. If you met them at party you’d likely gravitate to them. You might even be friends with them on Facebook, outside work, and even both.

The fact is that you simply like the person. If you’re being completely honest with yourself, you probably like them more than you like others on your team. It doesn’t mean you like the other staff less, but the truth is that you have a favorite employee.

Maybe this doesn’t ring true for you. If not, you have better boundaries than I did as a manager. I always knew that I shouldn’t have favorites, but I couldn’t always help it.

One day when I was talking to one of my managers the topic of favorites somehow came up. I said I felt badly that I had favorites, but I couldn’t help it. There were just employees who for one reason or another I liked more than others.

He told me something I’ve never forgotten. He reminded me that having favorites isn’t an issue, but showing favoritism is. Bingo! I couldn’t necessarily control how I felt about people, but I could manage how I acted in front of my team. Favoritism divides a team and creates unnecessary conflict. It gives some employees more opportunities than others. It’s just plain not a healthy thing for leaders to indulge in.

I took a hard look at my own actions as a manager to see if I was showing favoritism. I can’t remember the specific list, but here are few things I’m sure I was “guilty” of:

* Hanging out in my office or on the floor with some employees more than others.

* Not sharing tasks and projects evenly among the team. I’m not sure that would have broken a non-favorite’s heart, but at the same time it did give the favorites a leg up on being promoted or getting time off the floor.

* Slipped my favorites a couple extra sales. Of course I justified this because of everything they did for me, but at the same time I was depriving others of the opportunity.

* Confiding in favorites. I was definitely guilty of this when I was a young manager until it caught up to me. I had way too many conversations early in my career that began, “Just between us…” Not a good thing. (I hate admitting that!)

* Sharing what my favorites and I were doing outside of work at the store. I could write a whole Daily about whether or a manager/owner should be friends with employees outside of work, but the reality is that most of them are.

Over time I learned to not show favoritism, but I always had to remain on guard against slipping back into that behavior. I wasn’t perfect, but just being aware of the issue made me a better leader of a stronger team.

So let me ask, could you be showing any favoritism?


Doug Fleener is a proven retail and customer experience expert that helps companies to improve their on-floor and management performance. Vist our website or call him at 866-535-6331 to discuss improving your company’s customer experience and results.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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